Shorebird of the week 4-13-2006

Arturo Rivas loosens up during a 2005 contest.

This week’s Shorebird of the week is last night’s hero, Arturo Rivas, pictured here from a game last July. Last night he came on to pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth, two outs, bases loaded in a tie game – a situation every kid dreams about. While it wasn’t the seventh game of the World Series, Rivas did deliver the game-winning base hit through the middle and lifted the Shorebirds to a 5-4 comeback win over Lake County.

The 22 year old Venezuelan native was among the top Shorebirds in most offensive categories in 2005 as he spent the entire season here, hitting .251 in 125 games. His 9 home runs and 62 RBI were good for second place behind Jason Fransz.

So far in 2006 Rivas is off to a decent start, hitting .273 (6 for 22) in 7 games played, with a home run and 3 RBI to his credit. He figures to be an important part of the Shorebirds’ plans as long as he remains with the team this season.

Shorebird of the week 4-6-2006

Josh Potter, pictured at left as Juan Gutierrez looks on.

This will be a regular Thursday feature as I briefly profile one of our local hometown ballplayers. Tonight’s first SotW is pitcher Josh Potter, pictured here last May 15th. Potter is one of a handful of holdovers from the 2005 Shorebirds, and had a relatively decent season here, wrapping up the campaign with a 4-3 record, a 4.63 ERA, and a solid 67-25 ratio of strikeouts to walks.

Potter was drafted in the 23rd round out of Phillipsburg High School in Osceola, PA back in 2001. As with many pitchers who come right out of high school, he’s slowly moved up the system and this will be his fifth season in the Orioles organization. However, he still has some time to develop and move ahead in the system, as Saturday will be his 23rd birthday.

Although last year’s photo has him wearing #28, the roster this season shows him with #27.

Odd and ends #4

Just a bunch of little stuff, not necessarily enough in each part to make a full post. So hopefully the total is greater than the sum of its parts.

First of all, I noticed a week or so ago that the Justice For All? blog was having some issues with Google. It appears Hadley has the blog back up and going but without everything previous to this month. That’s unfortunate because one thing I feature on my blog is what I consider the best of my comments elsewhere (“My Feedback”) and JFA has a bunch of them, which are now dead links.

But Hadley is certainly not alone in his complaint, as Michelle Malkin attests.

If you are familiar with the story of monoblogue, you’ll recall that I once had a Blogger account. But I decided to leave Blogger shortly after a post I did in July of last year, and it was for economic reasons. I really didn’t want to consciously support a company whose employees gave over 95% of their campaign contributions to liberals and their causes. (To that end, you’ll notice I have no Google ads.)

It was through some of the other local blogs that I saw the rechristened “Son of Wal-Mart” (aka House Bill 1510) was defeated in committee. Interestingly enough, the vote was 13-9 to kill the bill. Since I’m all but certain that Democrats are a majority on the committee (as they are in the House of Delegates overall) it has to mean that they were feeling heat from someplace. The $64,000 question is whether it was:

a) the negative press on it, including articles in the Wall Street Journal and mentions on Rush Limbaugh’s show

b) the fact that 2006 is an election year for each and every one of the 188 Senators and Delegates in the General Assembly, not to mention two key statewide races

c) the power of the blogosphere, including myself.

While I’d love to think the answer was c) I think the reality staring Democrats in the face made b) the answer. Even though the vast majority of Democrat seats are likely “safe” because of voting demographics, it’s not totally out of the question for enough seats to flip over to the GOP to enable a re-elected Governor Ehrlich to have his vetoes sustained. It’s bad enough for the Democrats that the gay marriage issue was thrown in their lap by a judge; thus, passing “Son of Wal-Mart” this year would truly energize another conservative base of voters.

Speaking of voting bases, it’s starting to look like the long wait for county offices to attract candidates is over. We now have four candidates for Sheriff and three for county executive. The remaining question is how many people will flock to county council seats, especially with the recent turnaround on annexation.

I think Monday’s WCRC meeting will be an interesting one because of this and other issues.

Once again, if you read this blog on a regular basis you’ll find that I’m very pro-growth. One main reason is that my paycheck depends on people wanting to invest in development, whether of a business or residential nature. And it’s not just Wicomico County, but all over the Eastern Shore and beyond.

In our business, we have a lot of regulations to deal with, mostly of a restrictive nature. Honestly, 95% of them are common sense – one example is having fire-rated tenant separation walls so a fire in one unit is less likely to spread to another. The amount of exemption from certain fire code items you gain by installing sprinklers is another sensible restriction.

But in the case of Wicomico County and the whole growth controversy, I’m a little befuddled. Part of the reason is because I’m a “come here” so I have a short point of reference. In my readings of the local blogs, though, I’ve gathered two important nuggets. One is that somewhere, probably locked away in the most secure vault on the Eastern Shore, is Wicomico County’s master plan. Well, it must be locked away, because to hear the local blogosphere, it’s being ignored!

The other item is the subject of “pipestem” annexations. I was under the impression that Salisbury was attempting to streamline and square off their boundaries. But instead they run their boundaries several miles farther out, extending pipestems like so many tentacles and latching themselves further toward Delaware and other county borders.

It seems to me that it’s much easier to annex land in Maryland than in Ohio, mainly because Ohio has a township form of government for unincorporated areas. So when a city or village expands, there’s automatically a government entity that gets smaller and the township trustees generally fight annexations tooth and nail because it shrinks their tax base. Several times in my home area annexation battles have ended up in court. In one case, the battle was over city sewer and water being extended to unincorporated areas in exchange for not fighting annexation – but the township residents wanted no part of the higher city tax rates and sued the city.

Here in Maryland, it’s almost like Wicomico County has a “whatever…” attitude toward annexation, less area to take care of. Since it seems all the state money to run government comes from the same pot, there’s not a net loss to the county by losing territory, but it’s fewer miles of road to fix or less snow to plow.

Growth is an issue I can see both sides of. To me, it’s not growth that’s the problem, since it’s going to happen if an area is reasonably attractive. We happen to be in an area that has a nice climate and a rural feel that many seek. And it’s my opinion that even doubling the population wouldn’t change that.

County executive candidate Ron Alessi alluded to my concern when he spoke of getting good jobs here. But how can that get done? In a perfect world, each house that’s constructed also gets some place for the homeowner to work, as well as the public facilities necessary to maintain the house’s safety, utilities, accessibility to the job through improved roads, etc., etc. But it sounds like we have shortages of most of the other facets that go into a good community.

Delmarva has some assets to a company looking for a good location to place a factory or other facility. It has a nice location for “quality of life” issues and at least Delaware is somewhat business-friendly. The minuses are transportation needs, since it’s difficult to access a lot of places from here with Chesapeake Bay. But if there’s a company who doesn’t have a lot of time-sensitive issues, we’re as good a place as any to locate, maybe better than most.

Rather than kowtow to every residential developer in the region, what are we doing to get more jobs to the area? I’m not saying we need a Kia plant but someone ought to sell the region better to job providers. (Having a more business-friendly General Assembly would help too.) White-collar corporations could be lured to our area’s proximity to DC and the Northeast – close enough for easy access, far enough away so you don’t smell it.

I’m going to end this overall rant with one close to my heart. I sent and received e-mail from Brian Cleary, who’s the Operations Manager for Clear Channel of Delmarva (they run, among others, 96 Rock.) The subject was this year’s “Thirsty Thursday” band lineup at the Shorebirds games. It pissed me off royally when I read:

Sadly, the Thirsty Thursdays with the Shorebirds this year will not feature live bands … last year, we were able to secure the bands for the Shorebirds. However, for a number of reasons, we backed off playing the local music (ratings the biggest factor – the lack of cooperation and enthusiasm from the local acts one of the others), so those bands aren’t really working with us any more…(i)nstead for this year’s Thirsty Thursdays, we will have Whiskey & Cowboy broadcasting their show at the stadium.

Come on, what could’ve been better than beer, ball, and bands? Leave it to somebody to mess up a good thing.

It’s a very sad state of affairs when this is all the better we can do. One thing I got to love quickly about the area when I moved here was the support the local radio stations gave to regional bands. Instead of playing Nickelback for the 300th time, 96 Rock would play a local band’s song in a semi-regular rotation, plus every week they did “Local Lixx” which was an hour of local music. Now, I know some of the local bands dropped the ball (there’s a larger audience on the Internet, particularly but free airplay is free airplay, people. Do you think I wouldn’t like a plug for this blog on Bill Reddish’s show?

It really sucks because last year’s “Thirsty Thursdays” introduced me to some great groups like Control Freaks, Not Alone, Chowderfoot, and 7 Days Torn, among a host of others. There’s just so many good groups out there in our area that deserve support and another outlet for supporting them has vanished. Instead, we’ll be “entertained” by a wannabe morning crew that happens to be on in the afternoons.

Hopefully I’ll still get to see some good bands at “Beast of the East” this year, but since I think 96 Rock brought those bands in last year, it remains to be seen. No one’s announced yet at the site. The band list for “Pork in the Park” is up already though, they have an interesting assortment of groups.

It’s less than three weeks to the real beginning of spring. When the Shorebirds play and we get the twin weekend events of Pork in the Park and Beast of the East, it’s time to get ready for another fun Delmarva summer!

Shorebird flies away

During the offseason, hundreds of baseball players gain, lose, or change employers. The big name free agents make headlines, but a lot of young men are uprooted as they are released or traded.

Yesterday the Orioles made a trade with the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Corey Patterson. They sent two players to the Cubs, and one of them was a familiar name to me.

Carlos Perez, traded to the Chicago Cubs organization January 9.

Carlos Perez started the first Shorebirds game I saw last year, and it was a memorable performance – 2 hits and 10 strikeouts in 5 shutout innings. While he didn’t get the win that day, he did finish 11-8 on the season with 146 strikeouts in 151 1/3 innings for Delmarva. Even though he was 4th in the South Atlantic League in strikeouts, he was only 3rd best on the Shorebirds staff! But his 11 wins were also in the SAL top 10 and led the Shorebirds’ pitchers.

I would expect the Cubs to place him with Daytona in the Florida State League, one level up from Delmarva. He obviously has some good power stuff but I’m thinking he’s more suited to be a reliever on down the line.

A team like Delmarva, which is several steps away from the Show, doesn’t often get players who make it all the way up or get traded for big leaguers. It will be interesting to follow a player that another team coveted as he continues his career, knowing he once played ball for the hometown team.